KaVontae Turpin ignited sluggish TCU by returning a punt 78 yards for a touchdown before adding a 42-yard scoring catch, and the 16th-ranked Horned Frogs pulled away for a rain-soaked 42-12 victory over Dallas-Fort Worth rival SMU that ended early Saturday morning.
The start of the game Friday night between former Southwest Conference foes was delayed nearly two hours by lightning, and a steady rain fell until halftime.
The Horned Frogs (2-0) finally secured their first seven-game winning streak in the 98-game Iron Skillet series after midnight, winning comfortably after struggling early for the third straight year. TCU has outscored SMU 83-14 in the second half the past three meetings.
The Mustangs (0-2) led 9-0 early in the first home game for coach Sonny Dykes, but had just 167 yards total offense after Braeden West's 51-yard scoring run on the fifth play of the game.
Perhaps looking ahead to a showdown with No. 4 Ohio State next week, TCU squandered its first two chances to take control by committing turnovers before Alec Dunham picked up a fumble by SMU quarterback Ben Hicks in stride and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.
Two plays before Dunham's score, Mustangs linebacker Shaine Hailey had an open field in front of him on Shawn Robinson's first career interception but was quickly dragged down by an alert Turpin.
The speedy receiver/returner pointed toward the punter looking for a block on TCU's first score, but easily ran past an unblocked Jamie Sackville anyway.
The sealing TD came when Turpin caught a short pass, ran through the middle of the secondary and split three defenders near the goal line. Turpin, who set school records with his fifth career special teams TD and fourth on a punt return, finished with 176 all-purpose yards.
A week after throwing for three touchdowns and running for two scores in the first half of a 55-7 rout of Southern University, Robinson finally found the end zone on an 18-yard run in the third quarter. That gave TCU, a three-touchdown favorite, its first comfortable lead at 28-12.
Vanderbilt tight end Turner Cockrell has been battling cancer for the last year. The Commodores announced Cockrell’s health issues on the athletic department’s website.
Cockrell, a sophomore, noticed two lumps on the right side of his neck last fall. He was diagnosed with melanoma in November, underwent surgery in December to remove cancerous lymph nodes from his neck and later had radiation therapy.
After a full-body scan showed unusual growths in Cockrell’s lungs, doctors said in July that his cancer had spread. He is undergoing treatment in Houston.
QB’s status unclear
Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton’s availability for Saturday’s game against Southern Utah remains unclear.